Is the Mitsubishi Montero coming back to the U.S. market? Based on hints dropped by the company in advance of next month’s Chicago Auto Show, showing a utility vehicle with an upright profile, and the wording “the return of a legend,” the brand is at the least seriously considering it.
The original Mitsubishi Montero, sold here through the 2006 model year, attracted a strong cult-like following among off-road enthusiasts and others who appreciate rugged, traditional body-on-frame SUVs. Alongside the Montero, which was called the Pajero overseas, Mitsubishi sold the Montero Sport through 2004. The Sport wasn’t actually related to the Montero, but rather based on lower-cost components from Mitsubishi’s ‘90s-era Mighty Max pickups—and it arguably wasn’t successful in its mission in becoming a volume model, at a time when shoppers were moving over to crossovers.
Mitsubishi then introduced the Endeavor, a crossover that packed some over-the-top rugged styling themes and a faux-rugged look that aged rapidly after its 2004 introduction. Low fuel economy and high sticker prices eventually played a part in this model’s 2010 discontinuation.
Mitsubishi Concept GC-PHEV, 2013 Tokyo Motor Show
What sort of path would a future Mitsubishi SUV take? The Concept Grand Cruiser (GC-PHEV) that was shown at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show is probably a start; but that’s not a ‘legend,’ of course, so it’s likely a more production-bound vehicle would be shown. Expect not body-on-frame underpinnings, like the old Montero, but a uni-body layout, mated to all the off-road aids and some serious hardware that keeps with this model’s reputation on the world stage.
2006 Mitsubishi Montero LTD
Mitsubishi’s checkered history with utility vehicles in the U.S. is well worth taking into consideration, because the company has a lot to learn from it. If the automaker can play to the strengths of the well-packaged current Outlander, but offer more than a cursory look to the past glory days of past Monteros, it might have another chance to add some enthusiasm back to the lineup.
What else should a next-generation Mitsubishi Montero have? Let us know in your comments below, and check back for more information as we cover the press days of the Chicago Auto Show beginning February 12.